The Five Elements: Metal & Its Personality Type

The Metal Element personality type likes planners, to-do lists, and tasks in a linear fashion. Needless to say, they are well organized and proud of it too.

They are intelligent, well dressed, and often the anchor of the family. Strong and supportive, they are the ones who set the rules and boundaries, keep the place neat, and control the chaos. When out of balance, a metal personality type can be strict, controlling, and overbearing. This leads to tension, pressure, and resistance.

In Chinese Medicine, control belongs to the metal elements and the lungs. Our breath has a natural and automatic order; yet we can deliberately control it too.

We take in and release. Each breath paced for expansion and contraction, though not without the subtle pause between each breath.

As there is yin and yang within everything, control has both too. When control is balanced, the metal element and its environment move like a well-oiled machine. Seamless, structured, organized, calm, collected, on time, and on task.

The yang of control is excessive, stubborn, firm in its ways, overprotective, and quick to disregard others’ suggestions. Control in excess can be hypocritical, judgmental, and pessimistic. Excessive control can also constrict bowel movements causing constipation.

The yin of control in opposition is lazy, disorganized, aloof, and passive. They often can be described with their head in the clouds.

In my practice, I see control in excess often. Patients squeeze tightly to life or results they want. They believe their way is the only way, and the only way is to control. When we squeeze tightly to control, there’s no room for potential or possibility.

Take a moment – Breathe in and hold that inhale for as long as you can. That’s what control feels like. Tight, constricted, constrained, uncomfortable, and full of fear that the release may never come. There is little room for life, growth, or opportunity.

Take a moment again – Inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Exhale out the mouth, no count. Again, inhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Exhale out the mouth, no count. This breath pattern is an example of calculated positive control.

Now imagine a situation, person or event where control can be released. Allow yourself to release physical and mental tension with every exhale. Similarly to riding a horse, gently release tension on the reigns as you allow yourself to be guided and led.

Take the path of least resistance, and you’ll find yourself in nature’s order. 

The Five Elements of Chinese Medicine

The Five Elements of Chinese Medicine are living in all of us. We naturally embody and gravitate towards some more than others. While the remaining few may be where are challenges and lessons reside.

The Five Elements are:

  • Fire (Summer)
  • Earth (Late Summer)
  • Metal (Autumn)
  • Water (Winter)
  • Wood (Spring)

Each element has associated organs, season, color, taste, cardinal direction, personality characteristics, and much more. 

The Metal Element is associated with the Lungs (respiratory system) and Large Intestine (lower digestive system). Other associations are:

  • Season: Autumn / Fall
  • Taste: Pungent / Spicy
  • Emotion: Grief
  • Color: White
  • Sensory organ: Nose
  • Tissues: Skin
  • Cardinal direction: West
  • Time of day: Lungs between 3-5am & Large Intestine between 5-7am
  • System: Respiratory 

We can use these Five Elements and their attributes to our favor. One of which is by living in accordance with each season.


Metal imbalances can include, but are not limited to: 

  • Chills
  • Cough: dry and wet
  • Frequent colds and flus
  • Shortness of breath
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Congestion
  • Skin rashes and hives
  • Constipation
  • Dryness: skin, nose, lips, throat, hair, itchiness
  • Thirst
  • Grief, sadness
  • Excessive control


The pungent flavor has an affinity for the Metal Element, lungs, and large intestine. It is expansive, dispersing, warming and therefore, yang in nature. It stimulates the movement of Qi and Blood, specifically up and out to the limbs and orifices.

The pungent flavor can be used medicinally. Read more about its properties in my post The Pungent Flavor and Its Effects on Your Body.

Strengthen, support, warm, and cool your Metal Element and associated organs and channels with the following foods and herbs:

  • Apple
  • Grapefruit
  • Honey
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Loquat
  • Pear
  • Plum
  • Persimmon
    Herbs & Spices
    • Anise
    • Basil
    • Black pepper
    • Cayenne
    • Cinnamon
    • Chamomile
    • Clove
    • Dill
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Horseradish
    • Fennel
    • Mint family
    • Onion family
    • Rosemary
    • Salt
      • Cruciferous vegetables
      • Leeks
      • Organic soybean
      • Olives
      • Pickles
      • Radish
      • Spinach
      • Sauerkraut
      • Clams
      • Crab
      • Eggs
      • Herring
      • Mussels
      • Oysters
      • Pork
      • Barley
      • Millet
      • Oats
      • Rice
      • Sourdough bread
      • Wheat

      To nurture your Metal Element

      “Life is moving, not static, and although we can shape it, it cannot be controlled.”

      Dr. Randine Lewis

      Get to know your Lungs

      What to eat for lung health

      30-Second Exercise to Calm

      Spicy Flavor in Action


      Disclaimer: This information is intended for general reference only. It is not a replacement for professional health advice. The content in this post intentionally does not provide dosage information or possible interactions with prescription drugs or other medications. Please contact a certified health practitioner such as a physician of Oriental Medicine or Herbalist before considering use. To schedule an appointment with Malerie, visit the services page.